Bringing you Nervous Music since October 2003



seanmcg's My


I am seanmcg on and you can add me to your network.



Muxtape 2

"When New York Was New York"

Get Songbird



A random selection from my archive:



Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives


My Wishlist

Moment of Zen


Moment of Zen (inspired by Tim's Koans)

Courtesy of Timmay

Blog posts are no longer happening here. Visit for the latest updates.

    follow me on Twitter

    Thursday, September 30, 2004

    Petco: Where the baseball-playin' pets go

    Last Saturday, the Padres beat the D-Backs 5-4. It was a much closer game than we thought it would be. We figured San Diego's runs would be in the double digits by the 2nd inning. Quite the contrary, it was a 1-run ballgame and the D-Backs actually out-hit the Padres 10-7. We got to see "Trevor Time" and his solid close, plus an "end of summer" fireworks display over the jumbotron in centerfield. *BooM*

    Petco Park, San Diego

    Petco Park, San Diego

    Petco Park, San Diego

    Petco Park, San Diego

    Oh, and here we are on the loose in the Gaslamp Quarter.
    Monkeys on the loose

    The BOY is back in town

    Tim has returned from his two-month hiatus and he's got a new method to his madness. He'll be posting 100 or so observations from life on the road. Now go visit TIMMAAY.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2004

    Do not pass "Go" -- go directly to Starbucks

    If you're a fan of the Starbucks, then I suggest you swing by today for their Customer Appreciation Day. I was handed a free bag of Sumatra Bold (2.5 oz) and a book of poetry.

    "To show our appreciation to our loyal customers and get you started on a journey of your own, we offer a book of poems by authors from coffee-origin countries and a sample of our bold, rich coffee. Both are created with passion to inspire passion."

    In other words, get all hepped up on goofballs while reading Octavio Paz.

    Out the window

    Last weekend's San Diego adventures were outrageous and fun. Photos of the city's new Petco Park will be posted shortly. In the meantime, here are a few glimpses out the window during my cross-country flights.

    Out the airplane window

    Out the airplane window

    Out the airplane window

    Out the airplane window

    Tuesday, September 28, 2004

    There's no "i" in "pod"

    By looking at the title, you might think this post is about a certain little mp3 player, but it's not. Even though I went on and on about consulting yesterday, I'd like to make one more point about it.

    If you've ever been on the receiving end of a consulting situation, you know how irritating it can be when the consultant uses the wrong term in reference to an aspect of the project over and over again. Let me give you an example. I once worked with a consultant who continuously referred to our marketing team as the marketing "pod." He probably thought it was cute and kinda hip. But what he was really saying to me was "I'm not paying attention to your lingo and therefore I'm not paying much attention to the culture of your business. In short, I'm not listening."

    You may disagree and think I'm overstating the point. But there's something to be said for making a concerted effort to pick up on these details early. I'm not going to pretend to have some profound consultinng wisdom to share, but I will say this: If you ever find yourself in a consulting role, immediately begin adopting the client's terminology. It may be a seemingly insignificant detail, but you can't overlook how much some may cringe when their department is called a pod instead of a team.

    Monday, September 27, 2004

    All good things

    One year ago I was saying my good-byes and packing up my desk at my previous job in Cambridge. At the time, I was looking back at my 5 1/2 years of experience with the company trying to recollect all that I had learned. Now, a year later, I continue to reflect and I see things in better perspective. Maybe it's the fact that a full year has passed, or maybe it's because I've moved out of state. But I feel like there's a deep contrast between what I did then vs. what I'm doing now. It's made me realize how important it is to shake things up once in a while.

    My instinct was to immediately begin the full-time job search when I moved. Polishing the resume, contacting recruiters, posting to job sites... I did everything by the book hoping to catch a good break in a market that was just beginning to recover. But it didn't get me too far. I developed some solid contacts for further down the road. But in the short term, I wasn't making much progress.

    Fast forward a couple months to late winter when I decided to try something new. I dove into consulting and began marketing myself differently. It wasn't an overnight change, but slowly I developed ways of presenting my experience in a new light. I knew what I wanted to do for work and the jobs seemed more suited for an independent contractor role than a full-time staff member.

    This strategy apparently worked and I began three different projects in the same month. Since then, it's been almost non-stop. I appreciate the importance of time management much more now than ever before. But I also spend more money on gas now than ever before. You can say great things about working from home too, but it's also difficult sometimes to carve out personal time from work time. Taking it all in, though, I'm very happy with the path I chose.

    I'm not really sure what I'm getting at with this post. Up until now, this website has chronicled parts of my life on an (almost) daily basis. I believe it's good to look back once in a while and see where I've been to figure out where I'm headed. Apparently where I've been most often is right here in the house taking silly photos of the cat.

    The original point of this site was to keep in touch with family and friends after moving to Connecticut -- a state where we don't know many people. And I'd like to think I keep folks updated about our fun little adventures here.

    I continue to plow ahead with work and now I'm back doing some projects remotely for my previous employer. It's funny how things can come full circle sometimes. As Kevin Nealon advised in "Happy Gilmore":

    "You've gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness - energy - block - bad. Feel the flow, feel it. It's circular, it's like a carousel, you pay the quarter you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around, circular, circle, with the music - the flow. All good things."

    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    Netflix feeds

    As much as I meant to cancel my Netflix service, it hasn't happened yet. And now Netflix is offering RSS feeds. So you can see where I've been most recently, and *yikes* where I'm headed.

    Speaking of where I'm headed, I'm off to San Diego for the weekend for my friend's bachelor party. Hope to survive and return early next week.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    Calling all caffeine addicts!

    Let's give a big "hip hip hooray" to Chris! He stumbled upon this fun fact about the Coinstar machines: Rather than lose 8.9 cents/dollar when dumping your change, keep *all* your money and recharge your Starbucks card.

    Oh, but, wait. One of the Fatwallet Forum visitors states:

    "According to the Coinstar website, this deal is only for Seattle, Las Vegas and Philadelphia."

    Booooo!! Hissss!! Maybe Coinstar will get their act together and offer this deal nationwide eventually. Until then, I have to find my coffee money elsewhere.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    Clubbing to the Monster Mash

    My resume on hit 500 "views" today. I suppose this means that it's now been seen 500 times -- ideally by 500 different recruiters and companies. Aside from the occasional "WORK FROM HOME! MAKE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS PER SECOND!" spam messages, has never effectively pushed my career forward. Then again, I only take advantage of the free listings so I don't give it much chance when it comes to their premium services.

    So my resume has been hanging out on Monster for roughly eleven months. Is 500 hits in eleven months *good*? I really don't know. But hey, here's something: The founder of moonlights as a club DJ in Boston.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    WiFi, take me away

    With all the recent news of city-wide wireless networks sprouting up around the world (like Philadelphia, Boston, Paris, Nantucket, Chaska (MN), Grand Haven (MI), and -- I think I recently heard -- most of Ohio??), laptops and WiFi-enabled handhelds and phones will flood the streets more than ever before. I won't be taking advantage of any of this for now because I'm sporting a desktop PC and a Motorola StarTac circa 1999. However, if I ever make the switch to a laptop, I know there are a million and one sites that offer WiFi hot spot searching. In my opinion, the best are JiWire and WiFi 411 if you're looking for the nearest location to (un)plug in.

    Saturday, September 18, 2004


    Call it what you will: endurance, fortitude, fearlessness, stupidity. Not only did I go out in this monsoon, but I went grocery shopping. Not only did I go grocery shopping, but I also went to the post office, gas station, and the gym. When I got home, I had to shower in order to dry off. Seriously.

    Friday, September 17, 2004

    Sometimes novocaine misses its mark

    Dental work is no fun. As I sit here and type, I can't feel most of the left side of my face. I'm dribbling water down my chin and doing my best not to bite my tongue accidentally. I expected to get a sealant replaced on one of my back teeth this afternoon, but instead they gave me a preventative resin instead. The tooth is no stranger to sealants, so it was time to play with the big boys and get this mini-filling procedure done.

    The website I linked to above states that no drilling or shots are required. Wrong and wrong. Well, at least it's behind me and I can now look forward to yelling "Go Wed Fox!" tonight. We're just fee and a haff games back!

    Only 99 days left until Christmas

    If you're involved in planning, designing, developing, deploying, or testing e-commerce websites, then the wonderful folks over at 37signals may have something you're interested in. Their Holiday E-Commerce Ideas is a comprehensive collection of examples taken from top retail sites. They share some of the best ideas for improving the holiday customer experience. Get the scoop on the smartest ways to present gift cards, shipping, returns, and gift wrap just to name a few.

    So if there are only 99 days left until Christmas, then that means there are only 81 days left until Hanukkah! Merry E-Commercing!

    Windows security checklist

    Chris reminded me of a Windows security checklist that's been floating around the blogs lately. I haven't had the chance to investigate all of these products, but it seems that the list is being celebrated by heavy hitters like CNET and Slashdot.

    So I share that list with you now. I understand that the original posting of these tips on another blog has since disappeared. So here's to cleaning up your machine, and hoping that I don't get into too much trouble for republishing without permission.

    8 steps to better Windows security:

    1. Run Windows Update regularly.
    2. Install ZoneAlarm (Firewall)
    3. Buy and install NOD32 (Anti-Virus)
    4. Install WinPatrol (Anti-Hijack)
    5. Buy and install AdMuncher (Ad and Popup Blocker)
    6. Install and run AdAware (Anti-Spyware)
    7. Replace Internet Explorer and Outlook Express with Firefox & Thunderbird
    8. Disable Autorun.
    (9. Optional but recommended: Breathe a sigh of relief, then dance around your clean computer like a silly little monkey.)

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    Crazy like a Firefox

    My favorite web browser Mozilla Firefox is now available as a Preview Release - whatever that might be. Actually, this means the Mozilla Suite of Firefox and Thunderbird (email client) is a month or two away from an official version 1.0 launch. I think this will be relatively big news in the web development community when it happens because Firefox, as a beta product, has been gaining some significant ground in the web browser market over the last year.

    The Preview Release has improved features, including better pop-up blocking and added security (plus a cool little "RSS" subscribe icon that appears in the browser status bar when it detects that the page has an RSS feed available). I run into occasional page rendering problems with Firefox 0.8 so I'll probably make the upgrade this week. And hey! Why doesn't Firefox include the "close" button on the tabs themselves rather than on the far right? But given the speed and overall experience, I'd still take Firefox over IE any day.

    [EDIT: The New Zealand Herald has an interview with the lead developer of Firefox plus details on how the browser is gaining market share. May take some time to load as the article's been slashdotted.]

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    A day to remember

    You ever have one of those days when hearing the date nags at you about something you need to remember? Today is September 15th, and I keep thinking something's going on today. Is it someone's birthday? No. Is it tax time? No, that's April 15th. Is it a deadline? Nope. Do I have an appointment somewhere? I don't think so. Yet I sit here staring at my calendar wondering why today's date is triggering something in my mind. September 15th... September 15th...

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    Avant-garde home furnishings

    Now that IKEA has inundated New Haven, the television commercials for their home furnishings have become relentless. IKEA is spinning their new "It's Time" ad campaigns in an attempt to redefine how the public views their products. Rather than showcase rooms full of brightly colored plastic jetset chairs and blondewood armoires spilling over with swedish meatballs and lingonberry, the commercials feature more traditional combinations of country home bedding and sophisticated furniture for the less adventurous.

    Whatever. If IKEA can no longer be relied on for far-out furniture, then look no further than Mocoloco for the next avant-garde home decorating item, like Algue or Tak. Redefining the conversation piece.

    [EDIT: Better yet - Turn your house plants into speakers.]

    Sunday, September 12, 2004

    Pick a seat, any seat

    Now that my trip to San Diego is less than two weeks away, I'm getting excited to meet up with college friends for the weekend and then to relax on the return flight home. When I booked my trip and chose my seats, I wish I knew about Seat Guru. Select an airline and aircraft and you'll get a detailed map of good seats, poor seats, and all the little amenities you can expect on an airplane. Never get stuck beside the lavatory again... unless you want to.

    Saturday, September 11, 2004

    3 pairs of pants and 2 dress shirts in 1 afternoon

    I've been in dire need of new clothes for a long time now. Some people shop all the time; others go on a big shopping outing 2-3 times a year; I, on the other hand, haven't bought new pants in almost five years. Awful, isn't it? I needed one of those "Queer Eye" guys to get me back on track with my wardrobe. But instead I mustered up the courage today to brave the malls.

    Within three hours, I had a laundry list of new clothes:

    1 pair of Dockers light tan flat-front pants
    1 pair of Dockers dark tan flat-front pants
    1 pair of Gap sandblasted vintage relaxed boot fit jeans
    1 fancy-lad blue-checked Express dress shirt
    1 not-so fancy-lad cranberry Van Heusen dress shirt

    Final tally: three pairs of pants and two dress shirts for less than $120. I may not shop for clothes very often, but when I do, *whamo* I find the bargains.

    Friday, September 10, 2004

    Sometimes you shoot for the stars, and you hit the roof

    A redesign of this website is imminent. However with my current workload and my apparent lack of imagination, a relaunch is pretty far off. In the meantime, to satisfy my craving to make a change, I plan to make a few tweaks to the current site with one goal in mind: To add more depth.

    Although I enjoy this version of Nervous Music more than the last, I'm finding that the current site is flat and one-dimensional. It lacks depth, and shadow, and dimension. My first step in attempting to breathe a little more life into things is to spend a little more quality time with the photos I post. I've decided to add a thin frame to certain photos to class things up a bit.


    Nothing revolutionary, but I hope it's a step in the right direction as I begin to rethink how this site will look in the future. Of course, the subject of the first picture here was an obvious choice.

    Thursday, September 09, 2004

    Keep blogs on your tabs... Wait, strike that. Reverse it.

    I know there are compatibility issues between some news-readers and's own flavor of RSS (the Atom feed). But it would be interesting to find out how many people read this site using an RSS news-reader. I've considered installing a news-reader but haven't made the leap yet because I enjoy seeing the design of each site, the images, and any new features that may have appeared since the last time I visited. I can certainly see the value in news-readers, though. I make an Atom feed available so the site's more user-centered and it's easy to access posts even if you don't feel like stopping by.

    Having said that, I just discovered As they say, " lets you keep an eye on your favorite weblogs via the web, email, and instant messenger." Cool! I searched for a few of my friends' blogs and they were listed, including a date/timestamp of the last update. So with you save time on having to visit each individual site for updates, but you also retain the ability to stop by the actual site rather than get text-only posts through a news-reader.

    I'll likely continue to hold off on installing a news-reader in favor of giving a try, or.. ooh!.. maybe a neat little Firefox plug-in called Sage.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    Morning coats in the morning

    Here we are in our morning coats moments after the wedding ceremony last weekend. I don't typically post photos of other people (especially without their consent), but I figured we look pretty dapper, so why not? If I hear from any of these gents about removing this photo, then I'll just have to find a replacement picture of four monkeys in formal attire. Shouldn't be too hard to find. Where there's an ascot, there's usually a monkey.

    Morning coats!

    Tuesday, September 07, 2004

    Weddings and waterfalls

    The weekend was fantastic! The wedding ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral in Syracuse was absolutely beautiful and all the reception gatherings afterward were wonderful. It was terrific to spend some quality time with close friends in a gorgeous part of New York.

    On the way home, we stopped off at Chittenango Falls briefly. Snapped a few photos of the breathtaking 167 foot waterfall.




    Friday, September 03, 2004

    Jazz is like a road trip to upstate New York

    Off to a wedding this weekend, so nothing new here until next week.

    I'm very excited about my friends getting married and I know the next few days are going to be a blast. But first, we have to get there. We're packed up and luckily this just arrived in time for a soundtrack to our 5 hour road trip. (Thanks to Tim and his endorsement. I'm looking forward to cracking open the box set shortly.)

    Thursday, September 02, 2004

    Please enlighten me... again

    Two months have passed since I kicked off a website redesign project for a client near Hartford. The new site is going live next week and everyone seems happy with the results. Although that's a good starting point, only time will tell if the redesign will attract new potential customers for the technology firm. During the course of the project, I introduced search engine optimization techniques to the client in hopes of stirring some interest about the importance of maintaining a highly visible (and, when it comes right down to it: popular) website.

    However search engine optimization alone won't improve a website long-term if you don't know anything about your visitors. So the redesign project also included the necessary step of finding the best web analytics solution. Once you couple search engine optimization with historical data of who's visiting your site, how they got there, where they enter, where they exit, how long they stay, and what they're doing when they visit, you have a more well-rounded view of your website's efficacy and the weak spots you need to improve.

    I've had hands-on experience only with WebTrends. It's a powerful tool, but maybe overkill for what's needed considering the client has had no website statistics up to this point. After some initial research, I started asking around for feedback on the best tool. Very reputable firms like 37signals suggested HitBox Professional which operates on a monthly (no contract) basis and aside from including some client-side code in the webpages, all the stats are run off their servers rather than installing a bulky solution locally. Not bad. Plus the parent company WebSideStory has been around since 1996 (i.e., forever) which is impressive given what they do.

    So I'm thinking HitBox (with no license/contract commitment at $34.95/month) is the way to proceed. But I wanted first to see if you've had any experience with this sorta thing, and if so, what would you recommend?

    Dank ewe veddy mush.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    Making plays and catching rays

    Manny puts in an MVP performance while the Green Monster does its thing behind him: "the most delicious piece of scoreboard-watching in recent memory, the one in which the person behind the green wall kept replacing the metal numbers next to "CLE," the team above the "NYY." First, there was a "6" after the second inning. Then a "9" after three, a ridiculous "15" after five -- and still more! -- a "16" after six, and a history-making, can-you-believe-it "22" in the ninth, mocking the "0" next to "NYY."

    2 1/2 games ahead in the wild card race, and only 3 1/2 behind New York. All this, and check out the 5 day forecast through the weekend.


    Can life get any better? I submit that it cannot.